Friday, December 16, 2022

Colonel E.H. Taylor Binny's Single Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon


- $70
- 100 Proof
- Barrel #027
- Kentucky

I've managed to pick up a handful of these E.H. Taylor single barrel store picks. And yet, for whatever reason, I never got around to opening any of them until just recently. This was one of the bottles I brought with me on my recent trip to Kentucky, and once I popped it open I realized what a folly it was to not have done so sooner.

These tend to be few and far between, even at the bigger stores. On top of that, the demand is a bit nuts. So they're just not easy to come by, and perhaps that's why I waited. That said, it won't be long at all until I open up the next one on my shelf.

The nose was very caramel forward, with a rich sweetness that reminded me of Werther's candy. There was a light oak note to it, but lacking any bitterness. It also had notes of chocolate and brown sugar, and there was something there that reminded me of blondies. I also got hints of orange peel that gave off a slight Old Fashioned note.

What I loved about this bourbon, from the first sip, is that I absolutely got that blondies note right up front. Perhaps that's not relatable, but for those not in the know, it's like a brownie, but with butterscotch and brown sugar instead of chocolate. One of my favorite desserts, and this bourbon nailed it.

I also got other backing spices, including a lightly spicy cinnamon note, and that chocolate note I got from the nose appeared as well, though not as strong. The light oak note from the nose was also present on the palate, but without any associated bitterness. It seemed to fit right in to keep this from leaning too sweet.

The finish was rich but only lightly sweet, which was a nice departure at the end. There I was left with notes of dark chocolate and fig or raisin, and just the slightest tingle of cinnamon spice. It was a great way to finish off a great sip.

I was a big fan of this bottle, and once it was opened it wasn't long for this world. I can't wait to crack into another of these, and I can only hope it's as good as this one was.

Grade: A

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Benromach 15 Year Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

- $70
- 86 Proof
- 15 Years
- Speyside

I am certainly a big fan of peated whiskies finished in wine casks. As far as single malts go, I lean almost exclusively in that direction, and I frequently find myself focusing only on the Islay section of the Scotch aisle. However, Benromach, despite being a Speyside distillery, has always used peat in their products, and I figured it was time that I give their 15 year a try.

After all, not only is this one peated, but, although not stated anywhere on the packaging, was matured at least in part in first-fill sherry casks.   Sign me up! And the price certainly makes it an easy decision, as the $70 price point is more than generous for a 15 year peated whiskey finished in first-fill casks. Perhaps a little more proof would have been great, but then you'd have to pay for it.

Despite their claim that this has a "subtle" smoky flavor, the peat smoke came through fairly strongly on the nose.  Behind that, however, were great notes of brown sugar and butter crackers, like Ritz crackers. The best part about the nose, however, was the bright raspberry note that married so well with that peat smoke and immediately had me salivating.

Interestingly, there wasn't nearly as much smoke in flavor as the nose had me believe. While it was there, it was indeed "subtle," and far less dominant than it was on the nose. That bright raspberry note I got on the nose wasn't nearly as strong as I had expected as well. It was a tad muted, which was immediately a bit disappointing.

However, that disappointment didn't last long, because while the raspberry note didn't take over, other great, rich notes came through to provide more complexity and nuance. I got rich fruits, like fig and raisin, paired with a molasses sweetness. There was even a pie crust note that created this sort of rich and sweet and yet savory flavor that was not only incredible but a bit unexpected.

On the finish the peat smoke seemed to come through much more. It was almost like it was the flavor that was left behind. A bit of sweet brown sugar accompanied that note and a bit of the fruit notes, both bright and dark fruits, lingered as well, albeit not for a super long time.

This was a delicious pour, and it surprised me at times the direction it went. It was unexpected, but certainly enjoyable.

Grade: B+

Monday, December 12, 2022

Benriach The Smoky Twelve 12 Year Speyside Single Malt Scotch

- $70
- 92 Proof
- 12 Years
- Speyside

There aren't too many Speyside malts that feature peat.  Benromach does regularly, and other distilleries seem to do so only in special or limited releases, for the most part.  I'm sure there are others out there and I'm just not aware of them, but the fact of the matter is that Speyside is not exactly known for its smoke bombs.

And, I'm not that familiar with Benriach. I don't believe I've ever even sampled Benriach prior to enjoying this bottle. But, when I saw it on the shelf, I was intrigued not only by the fact that it was a peated Speyside single malt, but that it had been matured in three casks, including sherry and Marsala casks. That wonderful mix of peat and sweet is right up my alley, and with a cool name like "The Smoky Twelve," I knew I had to give it a try at some point.

On the nose the smoke wasn't nearly as big as in some Islay scotches. It was on the lighter side, giving room for other notes of honey and caramel.  There was also a nice butterscotch malt note as well and some bright orange citrus. The sherry and Marsala cask influence came through as well, but in the form of an artificial raspberry note, like raspberry flavored hard candy.

The flavor matched, in a way, but also diverged quite a bit. Notably, one of the first flavors that hit the front of my tongue was an unexpected almond liqueur note, with a tangy richness that was nowhere to be found on the nose.

This also had a malty backbone with a light black pepper spice that lingered through the finish. That bright orange note from the nose was also there, kind of like a fresh orange peel.  Luckily the wine cask influence didn't lean towards that fake raspberry note, but rather provided a very welcome fresh strawberry note, and all of these flavors seemed to work quite well with one another.

I do wish the peat were dialed up a bit, but that is certainly a personal preference. I did get those iodine notes and a bit of salinity in my glass, and that salinity also seemed to linger along with the black pepper and a hint of the strawberry. But the peat smoke seemed to fade a bit.

I know there are older expressions of this, and I just may need to give them a go at some point. But, I'm glad I satisfied my curiosity with this one. I did want a bit more, but it was still a tasty dram!

Grade: B

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Maker's Mark Private Select Binny's Beverage Depot - PB Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $70
- 110.2
- Finish: 1 Baked American Pure; 3 Seared French Cuvee; 2 Maker's 46; 3 Roasted French Mocha, 1 Toasted French Spice
- Kentucky

I feel like I've really slept on these Maker's Mark private selections. When they first came out, I was floored at how much I enjoyed them. I remember trying my first one at Haymarket in Louisville and I couldn't get over the incredibly delicious chocolate note I got from it.  I've since tried a handful of different picks, either bottles I've picked up or pours I've had at bars, and every single one has been delicious.

And yet, despite having had plenty of chances, it's been almost three years since I've purchased a Maker's Private Selection bottle. And it's silly of me given that it's moderately priced, it's cask strength, and I know I'm going to love the whiskey inside (pretty much regardless of the stave combination). Luckily, something motivated me to grab this particular bottle when it hit a while back, and I finally got around to polishing it off.

The nose was baked goods all around. I got pastry crust, sweet cinnamon and even a bit of vanilla icing. What hit me the most, though, was a distinct milk chocolate note.  I've been searching for that note in these bottles ever since that first taste at Haymarket, but to no avail. However, in this one, that chocolate note was right up front on the nose.

And to make it even better, it came right through on the palate as well. The very first thing I tasted when it hit the tip of my tongue was that milk chocolate note. However, there was almost a creaminess to it, as well as a distinct sweet vanilla. Overall, that first note reminded me very much of hot cocoa with marshmallows. I was immediately sold.

Other flavors came through as well, as I got pie crust and graham cracker, as well as something that reminded me of cashews, nutty but sweet and even oily. There was a light cinnamon note as well, and that cinnamon note seemed to carry through to the finish, along with the chocolate note, to almost provide a sort of spicy chocolate note that rested nicely at the back of my throat.

I don't know if this stave combination, if replicated, would produce a similar tasting whisky, but this was certainly one of the best Maker's Mark private selections I've had.

Grade: A

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Carl T. Huber's Malloy's Finest Wine & Spirits Private Select Cigar Batch Bourbon Finished in Brazilian Amburana Barrels


- $80
- 110.2
- 4 Years
- Barrel No. 22-2124-2
- Indiana

I've only had one of these Cigar Batches from Starlight before.  I had picked up a Binny's pick a while back when saw it on the shelf for the first time.  At first blush it seemed gimmicky -- just throw some bourbon into some other type of barrel and call it "Cigar Batch" so it sells.  After all, other brands had released "Cigar Batch" bourbons, and with some decent success.

However, the more I looked into it, the more intrigued I was as to what the Amburana barrels might add, and I was glad I did because I absolutely loved that bottle. So, when I got a chance to get another, one picked by a different store and a different palate, I jumped at the chance. While I don't necessarily have a specific recollection of previous bourbons I've tried, I certainly recalled that this was unique and interesting, and, of course, delicious!

The nose on this one immediately told me this would be no different. Right away I got rich notes of chocolate and hazelnut. There was a very distinct nutty quality to it, almost like a dry roasted peanut note. It had a spice to the nose as well, almost like a cardamom. It also had this sweet pipe tobacco note, which gives justice to naming this "Cigar Batch."

The flavor absolutely followed suit. It had significant pastry-like qualities, with a bready note as well as notes of vanilla, cinnamon and even a rich raisin note. The chocolate and hazelnut notes came through shortly after it hit my tongue as well and gave an almost creamy, rich and sweet quality to this.

Behind those rich, pastry and dessert-like notes were some welcome flavors that reminded me of an old fashioned. I certainly got a bit of orange peel, just enough bitterness to help temper all the sweet notes. There was a bit of a cooked cherry note as well, and underneath all of that was a healthy layer of brown sugar.

Aside from the tobacco note I got on the nose, I'm not sure what exactly makes this a "Cigar Batch." That said, I'm not a cigar smoker, and it's quite possible that this would pair excellently with a great cigar. What I do know, though, is that I once again found this to be unique, interesting, and absolutely delicious!

Grade: A